Ilya: Hello everyone. Welcome to another VanHack success case episode. My name is Ilya, and I’m really excited today to be joined by Anastasia who is a full stack software engineer that got hired at a top tech company that’s actually from San Francisco, but it has offices in Vancouver and now has relocated to Vancouver, Canada.

Ilya: Welcome Anastasia. Great to have you here.

Anastasia: Hi Ilya. It’s so great to see you again.

Ilya: Yes. Congratulations for getting hired, and let’s share your story. So first question, very simple. Tell me about your professional background, and your work experience, where you’re from.

Anastasia: So I’m Russian, but last six years I’ve been living in Germany until I moved to Canada a few months ago. So it’s actually a Russian, German experience.

Anastasia: For about 12 years I work in software development. I’m self-taught, so I started from scratch and learned everything by myself, it was my hobby. I was always interested on how websites are done so I started to read about it and do something, and step by step. Finally, I found myself in a software engineering position.

Ilya: Nice. That’s fantastic. And where did this dream or desire to move to Canada come from? What made you want to go? You were already living abroad, why move again?

Anastasia: I always look for new challenges and opportunities to grow and discover something new. So I love to travel, and I like different cultures, and see people from all over the world. And Canada was always my first choice.

Anastasia: But at first, I wanted to live in a place, but not so far from my home country, and see if it’s so great as I see it in my dreams. And it was amazing time. And at some point, up to maybe five, six years, I felt that I’m ready for a new adventure.

Anastasia: Moving to a new country is always a big adventure. And you face a lot of challenges, and it makes it extra exciting for me. So I like this process. I’m going through this process.

Ilya: Yeah. Yeah. As someone who’s also lived in different countries myself, I completely understand, it’s always like a new chapter. And so how did you find out about VanHack and how was your experience getting a job on VanHack?

Anastasia: Well, at one point when I decided that I want to move to Canada, I started to research about opportunities to do it. First idea was just to send hundreds of requests to different companies in LinkedIn, but then I thought maybe there is another way to do it, more easier, more funny. And I found a Telegram chat, all these software people that were discussing ways to move and [inaudible 00:03:05] discussion.

Anastasia: And one person mentioned VanHack on it, and I started to Google about it, and I thought, why not? It’s looks exactly what I am looking for.

Ilya: Yeah.

Anastasia: Yeah. I created my profile and started to apply to different positions. And finally, I visited this event that you organized in December in Vancouver.

Ilya: Yes.

Anastasia: So I got the possibility to meet different companies in person to talk to them and finally see the city of my dream, in person, not just on pictures in the internet.

Ilya: Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. Let’s talk about that experience. So this was of course pre-COVID, we had a program called VanHack Leap where we would bring developers or VanHackers to cities they want to move to, in this case, it was in Vancouver, but we also did it in different parts of Canada.

Ilya: And we were going to do it in Europe as well, but COVID kind of stopped that. And maybe who knows? In the future we’ll have it. But how was that? You got the preview, so you got to walk down the streets and see what it’s like to live there, go to, maybe, a grocery store or a restaurant. Was that really nice to have that experience?

Anastasia: Well, the several days that I spent in Vancouver was just the most amazing time in my life. It was December, but it wasn’t rainy, it was so great. So when I went home I couldn’t believe that such place can exist in the world. I was so excited about moving to Vancouver. So I’m strong, but I will do everything just to make my dream to come true.

Ilya: That’s awesome. Yeah, I’m biased, but it’s my favorite city since I’ve lived here as well. But there’s a lot of great places, we help people move, so it’s not just one city.

Anastasia: I believe there are also great places in the world, it’s just the perfect place for me.

Ilya: Yes, exactly. Cool. So let’s talk about the interview process. So you had the interview process with the company you got hired at here. How was that? Just maybe walk through so people understand what that looks like.

Anastasia: Oh, it was now a challenge for me. I’m a pretty introvert person, it’s hard to talk to people for me. But I got a great support from VanHack, gave me amazing tips on how to behave, of what to talk, how to prepare my speech. And we got great preparation sessions, first online before going to Vancouver, and in person.

Anastasia: And yeah, so the process was challenging, but it was exciting. I met so many people, and I was talking non-stop for maybe two, three hours sometimes.

Ilya: Uh-huh (affirmative). Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. And then how did you feel when you actually got the job offer?

Anastasia: The first job offer, I couldn’t believe. At the time I had a vacation in Los Angeles, and I got a message about it and I was looking like, “What, really? I got an offer. Wow I can’t believe in it.” I really couldn’t believe that it’s possible. It was a couple of days after the event, I didn’t expect it to be that fast.

Ilya: Yeah. So you just said something important. I think you got two offers, right? That’s something important to say.

Anastasia: I got three offers.

Ilya: Three offers. Wow. That’s awesome. Cool, cool. Sorry, it’s been a while since I saw you, I didn’t remember that. But, yeah, three offers during that one event, right?

Anastasia: Yeah. So it was really hard to choose. All companies were amazing, but I wish I could work for all of them, but it’s not possible.

Ilya: Yeah. Yeah.

Anastasia:So I made a choice, and it was a great choice.

Ilya: Nice. Yeah. And I’m a big fan of the company you work at, so yeah, I think you made the right choice there. And so you got those three offers and you chose one, and then afterwards you went back to Germany and worked remotely in Germany for a while with COVID, right? So how was that? I mean, I know that wasn’t the best experience, but it’s done now. And then how was the move to Canada? Was it a nice experience? With COVID, it must have been different, right?

Anastasia: COVID made everything different.

Ilya: Yeah.

Anastasia: Yeah. I was supposed to move, maybe, in two, three months afterward, because the process is very standard, like getting LMIA, then getting work permit. But we were going almost there in March. I applied for my work permit when COVID started.

Anastasia: And for the next six months I stuck in Germany. And because of that, we decided to start for me to work remotely, to not lose time as the company needed people to do the job.

Ilya: Yeah. Yeah.

Anastasia: And by the way, VanHack was super supportive in that process, because I got a refusal in my work permit.

Ilya: Yes.

Anastasia: And it was terrible time, but it was made by mistake, I believe by just-

Ilya: Yeah. Sometimes that [crosstalk 00:08:21].

Anastasia: It was a very tough time. Everyone, COVID, in the world, so [inaudible 00:08:25] happened. But VanHack helped me to go through this process of appealing, and finally, I got my work permit.

Ilya: Yeah, definitely. Our CTO at VanHack had his visa rejected three times before he finally got it. And now he’s-

Anastasia: Wow.

Ilya:living in Canada, PR and everything. So yeah, we know it’s not easy, especially when you get the rejection, it can be challenging. But it ended up well, you’re sitting here in your new apartment, and you said it yourself, all good.

Anastasia: I believe I would give up by myself if I would do it by myself, and only because of VanHack made me move forward.

Ilya: Well, that’s great to hear. Yeah. We have an awesome global mobility team, so I’ll be sure to let them know that you said that.

Ilya: Cool. So you arrived in Vancouver during quarantine, how was that whole experience? You had to stay two weeks in a place. How did you find an apartment? And how was, like, settling in period?

Anastasia: When I just came, it was in October 2020, and COVID wasn’t that strong at that time. So it was still possible to go somewhere and meet people. So it was pretty easy to find a place to live because many people cannot go travel now. People with [inaudible 00:09:46] are studying in Canada. And so I found it, probably, in just two weeks.

Ilya: Oh, that’s great. Great. Yeah.

Ilya: And you were talking before that you walk on the beach every day and enjoy your new home a lot.

Anastasia: Yeah. I live five minutes from the beach. It’s, Kitsilano, amazing place in Vancouver. And actually, the first thing that I did after my two weeks in quarantine in Canada, I went to this Kits beach that I live nearby now. And I was so amazed, I stared to it, I couldn’t believe such place, like… I had, no words, literally no words. And I thought if I find a place nearby, it would be just wonderful. It will be amazing. And yeah, I found it. It was good. I was probably lucky because there are not so many places in this area.

Ilya: Yeah, yeah. I know, it all worked out. Maybe it was a good thing that you had the delay because then you got to visit this place [inaudible 00:10:48], and so that’s fantastic.

Anastasia: Yeah. Calling this your operative [inaudible 00:10:52] because when you move alone, you still don’t have friends, and you are not allowed to meet people because of COVID. Now it’s spring it’s sunny almost every day, I enjoy going out. And very soon my bike will be delivered that I took from Germany-

Ilya: Oh, yes.

Anastasia: And I have my kayak. I go kayaking on sunny days because it’s nearby water.

Ilya: Yeah. I don’t even go kayaking, and I grew up here. I’ve never been… well actually, when I was a kid I went kayaking, but I should get back into that, it’s a very nice thing to do, especially in the summer.

Anastasia: Yeah. On weekends, I can go to mountains, I saw snow. well in Germany, there are not some places with snow. So last time I seen it was maybe two years in Russia when I visited my family. And so last weekend I went for hiking in the snow. It was just great.

Ilya: Yeah. Yeah. The mountain, Cypress or Grouse, or Seymour, the mountains here?

Anastasia: Seymour, yeah.

Ilya: Seymour, yeah fantastic. Oh, I’m so happy to hear that. Cool. Cool. And then work is good. You’re enjoying your time, and growing the company?

Anastasia: Yeah. I really enjoy working in the company. I work with all my favorite colleagues in a team of wonderful people. We are doing a very interesting project. I got the chance to work with back-end more than ever in my career. I’m learning something new every week.

Ilya:Awesome. Awesome. That’s good to hear.

Anastasia: And so, we are still working from homes, but soon you will be move to our great office in downtown. So it’s going to be even more interesting to communicate with people.

Ilya: Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. And then maybe last question is what tips do you have for other people, other VanHackers who are looking to get hired? What would you say? What helped you?

Anastasia: I think it’s, don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. So it can look almost impossible in the very beginning, and you don’t know where to start from. But your most important thing is the first step.

Anastasia: Later there will be dozens of other steps and many challenges, and there’s no guarantee of being [inaudible 00:13:16], but you never get the chance to try without doing this very first step. And it’s important to believe in yourself.

Anastasia: Yeah. Maybe it sounds pretty standard, but I’m sure it’s part of success. Belief that you can manage it, that you can go through it for the most tough parts instead of giving up. So it will help you. And help is important.

Ilya:Yeah. Okay.

Anastasia: And get help is important. We can do most of the change alone by ourselves, but working in a team of people that can support you is just amazing.

Ilya: Yeah. That’s so true. We hack together, so yeah, we’re here to help and prepare, and yeah, get people hired. One other last question for me, just maybe there’s VanHhackers watching this from Russia. And, I personally, I was born in Siberia, left when I was young, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Russians or people from that area.

Ilya: What would you say to them? Because I think we should get more of our Russian or Ukrainian, Belarus people hired on VanHack. Do you have any tips for people from that region?

Anastasia: I think it’s just maybe the same for all people, just follow your dream. Yeah. Many people think that it’s impossible to reach something they don’t believe. And I have an experience of someone who made him dream to come true after reading my post about something what I did. It’s not about work and moving to another country, but yeah, if people can see that other people are succeed, they follow their paths.

Anastasia: And in Russia it can be hard because it’s a very different culture, I would say. And people think sometimes that it’s hard to reach something what people deserve. So, I hope with my experience, and you, make some other people to find their start in the next years, where you’ll probably be the next one as a success story, where you will give advice to the next people.

Ilya: Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah. Sometimes we have success case videos that we record and the person says, “You know, I’ve watched 20 of these videos and now I’m doing mine.” So, who knows in the future, one day we’ll do a recorded video with someone who watched this video now. So yeah. That’s fantastic.

Ilya: Anastasia, thank you so much for sharing your experience. Congratulations again on your success. And if there’s any last words you want to say, or we can just finish here?

Anastasia: I just want to thank you VanHack for everything that you did for me. It’s just the most supportive people that I’ve ever seen in my life beside my team and work.

Ilya: Thank you.

Anastasia:So I don’t think that I could manage it by myself, really. I want to say a huge thank you. A million thank you to you.

Ilya: My pleasure. And yeah, I can’t wait for the quarantine and everything… well, not quarantine, but the lockdown to finish, and you and I can go biking around the beaches of Vancouver together, and yeah, that will be fun.

Anastasia:I can wait to start see people, like three months completely alone is-

Ilya: Yeah. Yeah I can imagine.

Anastasia:Yeah. And-

Ilya: Cool. Well, enjoy the weekend in the sun and thanks again for sharing your time here.

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